Fibroids are muscular tumours (majority are benign / not cancerous) which normally grow on the walls of the uterus. They are very common, particularly in black women, and vary in size ranging from a small pea to large grapefruit.

[Image credit: BioSphere Medical]

Some factors which increases the risk of developing fibroids are; age (risk increase as a woman ages, family history, ethnicity, weight (women who are overweight has a higher risk of developing fibroids) and diet (eating a lot of red mats are linked to fibroids).

Symptoms include heavy bleeding or painful and prolonged periods, discomfort during sex, constipation, lower back ache, frequent urination and a swollen abdomen. In some cases there are no symptoms.

It is not yet clear what causes fibroids. However, researchers believe it is a mixture of factors such as genetics and hormones (affected by estrogen and progesterone levels). Fibroids may be noticed during pelvic examination, hysteroscopy or an ultrasound. A myomectomy (surgery to remove fibroid) may be needed but can cause further problems with pregnancies, may cause miscarriages and can lead to infertility.

Fibroids can also be removed by two other surgical techniques; laparoscopy (otherwise known as ‘key-hole’ surgery) or hysteroscopy (surgery to remove uterus). These procedures cause less scaring and are less likely to affect fertility.

Over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen can ease mild pain caused by fibroids, while some birth control pills can reduce / help to control the heavy bleeding.

Jan-Marie Revers @JMRevers

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